PBBM makes investment pitch

Frames PH liberal business policy in speech at NY Stock Exchange

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. brought a message of optimism to the world’s largest stock exchange Tuesday—with an assurance that more American investments would be welcome in the Philippines, which recently enacted policies to further liberalize the economy.

INVESTMENT PUSH. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. rings the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange. With him are (from left) House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Trade Sec. Alfredo Pascual, First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, House Senior Deputy Majority Leader Rep. Sandro Marcos, NYSE Vice Chairman and Chief Commercial Officer John Tuttle, Finance Sec. Benjamin Diokno, and PSAC Convenor and Aboitiz Group CEO Sabin Aboitiz.

Before the President rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Monday (Tuesday, Sept. 20, Manila time), its vice-chairman, John Tuttle, said Mr. Marcos’ presence provided a “renewed sense of optimism” about investment prospects and partnership opportunities in the Philippines.

“I know I speak for many business leaders and investors in this room that they leave today not only with a renewed sense of optimism but a further enhanced and strengthened sense of optimism about the opportunities in the Philippines,” Tuttle said.

Marcos, who is on the second day of his six-day trip to the United States, said his engagement at the NYSE serves as an “invaluable opportunity” to share with business leaders how the Philippines is ramping up efforts to open up the economy and accelerate post-pandemic recovery.

“Bouncing back from the pandemic, the Philippine economy has seen robust growth since last year and has returned to its path toward upper-middle-income country status, achievable within the next few years,” Marcos said in his speech at the NYSE.

“For investors, doing business in the Philippines is an opportunity to reap the benefits of a vibrant economy,” Marcos said, citing key legislation to open up the economy. These include measures to lower corporate income tax rates and rationalize fiscal incentives; reduce the minimum paid-up capital requirements for foreign retailers and startups bringing in advanced technology; and allowing full foreign ownership of companies providing public services.

The Philippines, he said, offers investors “high-quality labor, a large consumer market, and a wide range of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives.”

These incentives make the Philippines a key destination for investments, Marcos said, adding that the country remains committed to maintaining sound macroeconomic fundamentals.

“In the near-term, our top priorities are protecting the purchasing power of families by managing inflation, reducing the scarring effects of the pandemic, and ensuring sound macroeconomic fundamentals,” Marcos said.

Marcos said his administration is keen on implementing policies that enhance food security, reduce energy, transport, and logistics costs, strengthen social protection, and enhance the quality of education and skills of workers.

“As we pursue our short-term agenda, we build the foundations for a stronger, more inclusive future. Our medium-term agenda includes reducing the poverty rate to single digits by 2028 and undergoing an industrial transformation through which science, technology, innovation, and sustainability will drive our industries,” Marcos said.

Mr. Marcos in a one-on-one interview with Tuttle.

Mr. Marcos said he sees the United States as a close partner in achieving these goals.

“I cannot see the Philippines in the future without having the United States as a partner … Many of the drivers of our early economy were actually American corporations. Many of the strongest corporate benefactors to the government and to the rest of society in the Philippines were coming from the United States,” he said.

“I believe that the political, economic, diplomatic relations that we make, the partnerships that we forged and that we strengthen now are going to be extremely necessary for the simple reason that they provide stability in this highly unstable economic, political, geopolitical, and diplomatic environment,” he said.

The President said the Philippines has adjusted its ways of doing business at the urging of the United States and American businesses.

“I cannot overstate the role that the United States has played in the Philippines in every aspect of our lives. And so this is just a continuing evolution and I believe, a strengthening of that relationship between the United States and the Philippines,” he said.

The President said that despite “external headwinds,” the Philippine economy’s resilience, reinforced by sound policies and decisive leadership, “makes us confident about the future.”

The President will continue to meet with American business people and heads of US companies as part of his working visit to the United States.

He will also participate in roundtables designed to project the country as a vital emerging economy and investment destination in Asia.

Marcos was set to deliver the Philippine national statement at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 20.

He will be the first leader of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to deliver a statement at this year’s high-level General Debate.

Aside from sharing the country’s views on various global concerns at the UNGA, Marcos will meet with world leaders on the sidelines of the UN assembly.

Speaker Martin G. Romualdez, who is part of the President’s official delegation, said before attending the event at the NYSE, the President led a series of meetings with officials of big business firms to discuss potential investments in the Philippines.

“We need more trading partners to realize President Marcos’ infrastructure modernization program, which is the best driver of economic growth,” Romualdez said.

He said President Marcos aims to sustain government efforts toward effectively responding to the crippling effects of the health crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic by focusing government spending on improving the country’s health care systems, ensuring food security, increasing investments in public and digital infrastructure, and helping communities cope with and prevail in these trying times.

Earlier, Romualdez said he has high hopes for the visit’s success, coming as it does after President Marcos’ recent successful trips to Indonesia and Singapore that resulted in more than $14 billion in supply and investment pledges from Indonesian and Singaporean businessmen.

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